Humiliation: the fear of being seen

Collective readings

Today's tarot reading might be uncomfortable for you to read, and is definitely uncomfortable for me to type. Grab some tea, get comfortable, and let's take a look at humiliation, or what I like to call the fear of being seen.

Table of contents

Today's tarot reading might be uncomfortable for you to read. I know I definitely had to tap into some uncomfortable memories for me to type it. Humiliation is one of those socially taboo wordswe've all felt it but never want to talk about it.

So, naturally, this is the topic I ended up picking to christen this newsletter.

Grab some tea, get comfortable, and let's take a look at humiliation, or what I like to call the fear of being seen.

This is a 3-card reading: Card 1 is Problem, Card 2 is the Root, and Card 3 is the Healing.

Three oracle cards arranged in a row: Overflow, Humiliation, and Spirals of Manifestation.
The cards: Overflow, Humiliation, and Spirals of Manifestation.

Card 1: The problem


Marion Costentin, the creator of the weird and gorgeous card in the middle, defines humiliation as judgement mirrored back to us.

You can't be humiliated over something you're not ashamed about. There has to be a seed of shame buried inside you already, which is then mirrored back to you through someone else. No wonder we're uncomfy when it comes to this topic. Someone shining a spotlight directly on my secret shame sounds terrifying as fuck.

Now, to be clear: I consider there to be 2 types of humiliation. There's the actual thing that happens in real life, which is when someone is being an asshole to us directly. And I don't want to touch on this today because we really can't control someone else's actions.

I'm interested in talking about what we can control, which is type 2: the fear of humiliation.

And by this, I mean hesitating to put yourself out there, because you're afraid that everyone will watch you fall on your face. It feels very much like the image in the card above: all eyes on you, judging and waiting for you to fail.

But here's the truth: this fear of humiliation is so much worse in the mind than in real life. And if you think I'm just repeating some generic self help crap, play this little game with me: Think of someone you know who tried something new– a job, a relationship, a business– that later didn't work out. What was your reaction when things went south?

Chances are you felt bad for them, and then didn't think about it again. Your life went on as usual. Unless you're just a total hater. In which case, your reaction was probably something like this:

A GIF of a cartoon villain doing an evil laugh

So if you and I don't judge people when they're struggling, and if we agree that the people who do that have their own problems that need working on, where is the fear coming from?

Why do you believe that other people are allowed to fail, but you'll face judgement when it happens to you? Can you see how the fear that is so powerful in your mind, isn't actually based in real life experience?

Psst... I really just want to take some space to acknowledge that the fear in your mind is real. It's not something you can just brush away by reading an article. And I think trying to brush it off actually sets you up for failure because you wonder why the fear isn't just going away. Then you get into the self blame, and the negative talk, and a whole bunch of others things that really don't serve your highest good. So the goal isn't about getting rid of the fear. The goal is to make peace with the fear.

Card 2: The root


For this, I turn to the wise words of Colette Baron-Reid and Alberto Villoldo:

Empathy overload occurs when you tune into the collective angst and fear about impending changes and certainties.

Basically, we live in a world where we're constantly tuned into other people's emotions and thoughts. And without knowing it, you absorb fears and beliefs that aren't yours. You start to feel that time is running out, that you're not smart enough, that there isn't enough success in the world for all of us to have a seat at the table – even though none of these things might be true in your actual life.

Your life could be fucking amazing, and you can still be worried that your success is temporary. Because there's so much fear in the air, it becomes hard to distinguish what's yours and what's not.

When you're afraid of getting humiliated, when you start to believe that being seen is dangerous and that you need to hide and stay small, a really good place to begin is to ask yourself where this fear comes from. What are you absorbing that isn't yours to absorb?

Card 3: the healing

Spirals of Manifestation

The path ahead is not linear. If you're afraid that you're going to start and be really bad, let me help clear that up for you:

Yes, you're going to suck. Basically everyone sucks when they do something they've never done before.  

So when we want to heal from the fear of falling flat on our face, we're not looking for ways to not suck. We're not looking for ways to reduce how bad we're going to be as a beginner. We're looking for ways to release the judgment that we have about being average (or worse).

So, again, the path is not linear. This is not a movie montage where you put on fun background music and we watch you progress from beginner to expert in 3 minutes.

The path is spiralic. You go round in circles. You come back to the spot over and over and over again. You run into the same problems, face the same fears, battle the same demons. Every day. Every week. Some days are manageable, some days are a breeze, and some days feel like you got punched in the stomach.

This is what healing looks like. It's not something you do once and then you're sorted. And I can't really say that the path gets easier with time, but you do gain more confidence in your ability to weather the storm. 🌙